Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Angels, Pirates and on to the next!

Pirates closed today. We had two student matinees for title one schools sponsored by a group of ANGELS: Brook and Matthew Barzun, Augusta and Gill Holland, and Owsley and Victoire Brown. These six individuals made it possible for hundreds of students to experience live opera - we thank them!! Both performances were pretty much full and the audences seemed to enjoy the performances.

Now the Studio Artists must dive right into Teleman (Brown Theatre November 14 & 15). The Baroque Opera pieces won't be easy for them to learn because there are no translations of the arias in the first half of the show. I have been told (though yet to hear) that the selections are beautiful, and with the period instruments the event should be very cool. Rehearsals are at Austin Clark's home in the mornings, and I hope to get over there some time for a photo and a listen.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Model of a Modern Major General

Photo by J. David Levy

We have had an overwhelming number of requests for Thomson Smillie's new lyrics to the "Modern Major General" song. Here they are!! Also for those who would like a memory of the evening, there are posters (above) available from the Kentucky Opera Guild. Call the opera to get one! 502.584.4500!

I am the very model of a modern major-general,

I’ve information vegetable, animal and mineral,

I know the names of fifty states in order alphabetical

I know about computers thou its mostly theoretical;

I know the names and pedigrees of all the Derby winners

And all the dirt on Frankfort and can name the saints and sinners

Then I can hum the Billboard hits of every recent Pop Era

[Ooh! Tricky! Orch riff of Phantom theme] Ah yes!

And whistle all the melodies from Phantom of the Opera.

I know the televangelists and all the rabble-rousers

Who preach the joys of chastity, till caught without their trousers!

In short in matters vegetable, animal and mineral

I am the very model of a modern major-general.

I’ve studied all the gossip rags and know the sordid details

Of every rock groups drugging trips, as far back as the Beatles;

I know the names of Presidents from Washington to dubble-ya

Tho’ more on that, I rather think, I do not need to trouble-ya

I know the matrimonial stuff that really does embarrass,

On Brangelina, Britney Spears and even Hilton….Paris;

I know the inner secrets of the Kennedys of Camelot.

[Ah? Camelot? child super crosses with coconut shells :I have it!!!”]

And whistle all the tunes from that infernal nonsense Spamalot

I‘ve memorized the story line of HBO’s Sopranos.

And more of soapy opera plots as any other man knows

In short in matters vegetable, animal and mineral

I am the very model of a modern major-general.

I’ve read the books on strategy and know it all in theory,

I’ve played at all the war games and believe me they are dreary;

On military matters though I’m anything but brainy

I know as much, I rather guess, as either Bush or Cheyney;

So when I’ve learned the sciences of firepower and ballistics

And know to differentiate the lies from the statistics

When I can tell a Sunni, from a Shia-type Iraqi

You’ll say a better general has never worn the khaki.

For my military knowledge though I’m gallant and adventury

Has only been brought down to the beginning of last century

But still in matters vegetable, animal and mineral,

I am the very model of a modern major-general.

Thomson Smillie

Monday, October 20, 2008

Stage Management Notes #11

The David Levy Requested QUOTE OF THE DAY

1. The Belle of Louisville – it might be mentioned in the show…listen for it!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Daily Notes from Stage Management

Lisa Ellis, the Pirates of Penzance stage manager, sends us notes everyday about rehearsal. Said notes include fun tidbits of information for different departments working on the show like:


1. Thomson would like a tall processional cross for the divinity in Act I.

2. We are using almost all of the daggers you brought us, and some of them could use some TLC. They are laid out on a table stage left.

3. Thomson borrowed a small whisk broom from the costume shop today…I believe that is more the style of brush he would like for the clothing brush.


1. The change for Frederic from cadet to pirate is approximately 5 minutes. He exits stage left and reenters stage left.

A new addition to these notes include:

The David Levy Requested QUOTE OF THE DAY

10/11 Watch him picking his butt! React to that! – Barrett Cooper

10/13 Natalie and I are practically married – overheard from Courtney McKeown, context unknown

10/14 It breaks my fart… – Colm Fitzmaurice, misspeaking the line “It breaks my heart..”


Pirates Of Penzance Rehearsal Photos

David Michael taking a break while Jamie-Rose and Colm work on "Stay Frederic Stay".
The cast is working so hard on Pirates of Penzance, they are ahead of themselves. They are doing so well, they took the day off yesterday!

Colm Fitzmaurice hamming it up. He is an excellent actor.

Rehearsing at Artspace is an added bonus! We move into the Brown Theatre next week. So exciting!

We are selling this show very well. If you want to come to opening night, you had better get your tickets soon. We do have availability for Tuesday 10/28!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Pirates Cast Staff Lunch

This post was sitting in my drafts pile for a while so its a little late. Sorry

Pirates of Penzance Cast/Staff Lunchon.

I learned A LOT at the lunch today. I sat next to our Mabel, Jamie-Rose Guarrine. She has just moved to Fairbanks Alaska, and LOVES the fall weather here in the 'Ville. Just before her move, she had a gig in Arizona where it was too hot. She was in Alaska for a month during which time she had to take a course to prepare for encounters with Moose and ice fog. She is grateful for the temperature and the view of the river from her room at the Galt House.

I was also sitting next to Anne-Carolyn Bird, who isn't in our show, but is the fiance of Matt Burns who is our Pirate King. She is actually on her day off from Nashville Opera's Don Giovanni. It always facinates me when opera singers get married. I suppose they live such hectic schedules this city one month another city the next, only another opera singer could cope with that kind of schedule. These two had a great getting together story.
It was in Opera Grand Rapids production of The Marriage of Figaro where they met. There was a photo shoot, the photographer noticed a great connection and what great actors these singers are, when infact, they were falling in love. The photographer saw it before they did - the eye of an artists! Turned out their next show was the following month at Daytona Opera with the Barber of Seville and thats where they figured it out. They will be taking a cruise and Matt is VERY excited about it!

Thomson Smillie was a fountain of wisdom as well, but his information was more about the show at hand...
For those who may not already know, Thomson is the Stage Director for Pirates of Penzance, and the former Director of Kentucky Opera. The last time the company performed this piece was in 1991 at the Brown Theatre with Thompson directing and Bob Bernhardt leading the Orcehstra. The duo will be reunited back home to the Brown...

Thompson told us about the miniature dopplegangers that will be in the show (more on this another time) and the use of monochromatic palate until the ladies arrive. The first 20 minutes everything is in black and white. Then when the maidens arrive, the pirates start adding color and the sets become more colorful. This is supposed to signal the pirates evolving into gentlemen.

From what I know, Opening night is selling very well, but we have a lot of room still for the Tuesday October 28th performance. Get your tickets here or call (502)584-7777!

Oh if you have a moment, Anne-Caroline Bird is a fellow opera blogger. Find her here.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


A memoir from Kentucky Opera Studio Artist Juliana Moura and her experience on Sunday's performance of Otello.

I play the violin every Sunday on my church (Walnut Baptist) and on this Sunday I also sang the Lord’s Prayer. Just before the sermon began I left for my opera chorus call at the Kentucky Center. I needed to be there at 12:30 but I got in the parking lot earlier so I decided to relax a little before going in. While in the car I heard a cell phone vibrate. I knew my cell was with my husband that day and as I looked for the sound, the vibrating stopped. Some seconds later it started to vibrate again. Then I saw my husband’s jacket that he had forgotten in the car. When I checked the cell I saw 8 missed calls and a bunch of messages. At that moment I thought, “Somebody really wants to talk to me.” I checked the missed calls and saw Julie’s phone number, and David’s and Julie’s and… OH MY GOD, WHAT IS GOING ON?

When I opened the Kentucky Center Lobby’s door I saw Alise Oliver, Kentucky Opera’s artistic administrator, with this scary look on her face and saying, “Oh, Juliana is here, she is here…” suddenly Julie Maykowski (the education director), Alice, Julia (the assistant stage manager) and everybody was there just smiling and asking, “How are you today???” Then I asked, “What’s going on?” Nobody said anything; they just had those freaking smiles. Then I asked, “Where is Kelly?” They looked at each other THIS TIME with a nervous laughter they said, “David Levy is coming to talk to you!” I knowingly replied, “This is not happening, right?” Alice, the costume master, said with her smile, “Oh, yes it is…” I got that answer as a voice far, far away and from that moment on I started to set my mind aside: THIS IS NOT REAL AND I AM JUST HAVING A DREAM (NIGHTMARE).

David Levy came and with all his calm personality and voice said, “Hi Juliana how are you feeling today? Well, Kelly is sick and we need you to standby and sing from the pit in case anything goes wrong, how do you feel about that? You think you can do this?” And in the same calm voice he asked me, I said, “I think so!”

He showed me the place already prepared in the pit and took me to talk to our star, Kelly Kaduce. Julie took me to Todd Hall so I could run through some parts that I wanted to work on with the coach Naoko Suga . I asked to go through third act (God knows why!) and then we looked at the death scene in the fourth act because this was the only part we didn’t coach for this opera.

Before the opera began, Julie was in the dressing room forcing me to eat and I heard the announcement made by Lisa, the stage manager, on the speaker, “Attention please, Juliana Moura is not singing today with the chorus, she will be in stand-by for Mrs. Kaduce in the pit.” I just looked at Julie, covered my ears and said “I don’t want to here this, la, la, la, la, la…”. So I could still trick my mind and pretend that this was just a rehearsal.

During the performance, Kelly made it through acts one and two without incident. In the third act all the lights in the orchestra it went out, except for my light and Naoko’s. I stood up and just like the guys with the flashlights on the airport runway I held up the lights to help the orchestra see something in the middle of the blackout. I started screaming for Naoko to get somebody to do something about the lights and this went on for a while. Kelly Kaduce ended up singing one or two bars without music but then the lights came back. From that moment on I was sure that THIS WAS NOT REAL!!!

Well as soon as Kelly finished her duet in the third act I thought, “Thank God she will be able to do the whole show!” Suddenly Julie appeared at the pit and said “You are ON!!!”

I took my shoes off to try to relax and thought “This is just a rehearsal!!!”

And I sang!

After the third act they rushed me to stage right to do act four because the singers on stage couldn’t hear me. David Levy with all his calm showed me the place I was going to be and I took my shoes off again. As soon as the forth act started I realized I could not hear the orchestra. On that part of the stage I could tell that an orchestra was playing, but I could not hear the notes, so Naoko played my notes on the piano which was the greatest help I could have. I did not take my eyes off the score, except to look at the maestro and tried to be as straight as I could on my tempo as he advised me.

Thank goodness we worked on the fourth act. After my last word on stage, ADDIO! I felt just like that, I am dead, and good bye. It was amazing to see so many people back stage cheering for me and with big smiles saying so many good things. Honestly in my mind I have no clue how it sounded; I had NEVER sang with an orchestra before, or in a big theater like the Whitney and doing this gigantic role that my voice isn’t ready for yet.

I can still picture the moment when Kelly and I embraced in center stage. To hear all the applause was the most exciting moment of my life!!!

I am very happy to have been chosen to study this role with Kentucky Opera Studio Artists Program and to be prepared so I could face this once in a lifetime opportunity. I can say that I depended on God the entire time, and just kept saying in my head: THIS IS NOT HAPPENING… IT IS JUST A REHEARSAL!

posted by Juliana Moura